Ellen G. White Writings

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The Review and Herald

July 29, 1902

The Importance of a Knowledge of Health Principles

Mrs. E. G. White

“Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.”

We have come to a time when every member of the church should take hold of medical missionary work. The world is a lazar house filled with the victims of both physical and spiritual disease. Everywhere people are perishing for lack of a knowledge of the truths that have been committed to us. The members of the church are in need of an awakening, that they may realize their responsibility to impart these truths. Those who have been enlightened by the truth are to be light bearers to the world. To hide our light at this time is to make a terrible mistake. The message to God's people today is, “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.”

On every hand we see those who have had much light and knowledge deliberately choosing evil in the place of good. Making no attempt to reform they are growing worse and worse. But the people of God are not to walk in darkness. They are to walk in the light, for they are reformers.

Before the true reformer, the medical missionary work will open many doors. No one need wait until called to some distant field before beginning to help others. Wherever you are, you can begin at once. Opportunities are within the reach of every one. Take up the work for which you are held responsible,—the work that should be done in your home and in your neighborhood. Wait not for others to urge you to action. In the fear of God, go forward without delay, bearing in mind your individual responsibility to him who gave his life for you. Act as if you heard Christ calling upon you personally to do your utmost in his service. Look not to see who else is ready. If you are truly consecrated, God will, through your instrumentality, bring into the truth others whom he can use as channels to convey light to many who are groping in darkness.

All can do something. In an effort to excuse themselves, some say, “My home duties, my children, claim my time and my means.” Parents, your children should be your helping hand, increasing your power and ability to work for the Master. Children are the younger members of the Lord's family. They should be led to consecrate themselves to God, whose they are by creation and by redemption. They should be taught that all their powers of body, mind, and soul are his. They should be trained to help in various kinds of unselfish service. Do not allow your children to be hindrances. With you the children should share spiritual as well as physical burdens. By helping others they increase their own happiness and usefulness.

The Home Reading Circle

Let our people show that they have a living interest in medical missionary work. Let them prepare themselves for usefulness by studying the books that have been written for our instruction in these subjects. These books deserve much more attention and appreciation than they have received. Much that is for the benefit of all to understand has been written for the special purpose of instruction in the principles of health. Those who study and practice these principles will be greatly blessed, both physically and spiritually. An understanding of the philosophy of health will be a safeguard against many of the evils that are continually increasing.

Many who desire to obtain knowledge of medical missionary work have home duties that will sometimes prevent them from meeting with others for study. These may learn much in their own homes in regard to the expressed will of God concerning missionary work, thus increasing their ability to help others. Fathers and mothers, obtain all the help you can from the study of our books and publications. Read the Good Health, for it is full of valuable information. Take time to read to your children from the health books, as well as from the books treating more particularly on religious subjects. Teach them the importance of caring for the body,—the house they live in. Form a home reading circle, in which every member of the family shall lay aside the busy cares of the day, and unite in study. Fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, take up this work heartily, and see if the home church will not be greatly improved.

Especially will the youth who have been accustomed to reading novels and cheap storybooks, receive benefit by joining in the evening family study. Young men and young women, read the literature that will give you true knowledge, and that will be a help to the entire family. Say firmly, I will not spend precious moments in reading that which will be of no profit to me, and which only unfits me to be of service to others. I will devote my time and my thoughts to acquiring a fitness for God's service. I will close my eyes to frivolous and sinful things. My ears are the Lord's, and I will not listen to the subtle reasoning of the enemy. My voice shall not in any way be subject to a will that is not under the influence of the Spirit of God. My body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, and every power of my being shall be consecrated to worthy pursuits.

The Lord has appointed the youth to be his helping hand. If in every church they would consecrate themselves to him, if they would practice self-denial in the home, relieving their careworn mother, the mother could find time to make neighborly visits; and when opportunity offered, they could themselves give assistance by doing little errands of mercy and love. Books and papers treating on the subject of health and temperance could be placed in many homes. The circulation of this literature is an important matter; for thus precious knowledge can be imparted in regard to the treatment of disease,—knowledge that would be a great blessing to those who cannot afford to pay for a physician's visits, or for drugs which, even if obtained, are only an injury.

Duty of Parents to Instruct and Train their Children

Parents should seek to interest their children in the study of physiology. But few among the youth have any definite knowledge of the mysteries of life. The study of the wonderful human organism, the relation and dependence of its complicated parts, is one in which many, even parents, take little interest. They do not understand the influence of the body upon the mind or of the mind upon the body. Needless trifles occupy their attention, and then they plead a lack of time as an excuse for not obtaining the information necessary to enable them properly to instruct their children.

If all would obtain a knowledge of this subject, and would feel the importance of putting it to practical use, we should see a better condition of things. Parents, teach your children to reason from cause to effect. Show them that if they violate the laws of health, they must pay the penalty by suffering. Show them that recklessness in regard to bodily health tends to recklessness in morals. Your children require patient, faithful care. It is not enough for you to feed and clothe them; you should seek also to develop their mental powers, and to imbue their hearts with right principles. But how often are beauty of character and loveliness of temper lost sight of in the eager desire for outward appearance! Parents, be not governed by the world's opinion; labor not to reach its standard. Decide for yourselves what is the great aim of life, and then bend every effort to reach that aim. You cannot with impunity neglect the proper training of your children. Their defective characters will publish your unfaithfulness. The evils that you permit to pass uncorrected—the coarse, rough manners, the disrespect and disobedience, the habits of indolence and inattention—will bring dishonor to your names and bitterness into your lives. The destiny of your children rests to a great extent in your hands. If you fail in duty, you may place them in the ranks of the enemy, and make them his agents in ruining others; on the other hand, if you faithfully instruct them, if in your own lives you set before them a godly example, you may lead them to Christ, and they in turn will influence others, and thus many may be saved through your instrumentality.

Fathers and mothers, do you realize the importance of the responsibility resting upon you? Do you realize the necessity of guarding your children from careless, demoralizing habits? Allow your children to form only such associations as will have a right influence upon their characters. Do not allow them to be out in the evening unless you know where they are, and what they are doing. Instruct them in the principles of moral purity. If you have neglected to teach them line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little, begin at once to do your duty. Take up your responsibilities, and work for time and for eternity. Let not another day pass without confessing your neglect to your children. Tell them that you mean now to do your God-appointed work. Ask them to take hold with you in the reform. Make diligent efforts to redeem the past. No longer remain in the condition of the Laodicean church. In the name of the Lord I call upon every family to show its true colors. Reform the church in your own home.

As you faithfully do your duty in the home, the father as a priest of the household, the mother as a home missionary, you are multiplying agencies for doing good outside of the home. As you improve your own powers, you are becoming better fitted to labor in the church and in the neighborhood. By binding your children to yourselves and to God, fathers and mothers and children become laborers together with God.

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